Joe Strummer was famously quoted as explaining the origin of his name as such “I called myself Joe Strummer because I can only play all six strings at once, or none at all” I can’t think of a better logic in the world that could be applied when answering that question
I also would dig my heels in and insist that Strummer became a superb rhythm guiatarist as soon as he started working with Mick Jones and Mick demonstrated the talent that he had in abundance. Just check some live footage and how Joe’s sense of rhythm and brash style filled in any and all open space to allow Mick to conjure all manner of ideas to fill the fiddly bits. Live performances by The Clash as they matured are so stunning (for the most part) to watch as the interplay before the four of them was dynamic and unbridled both at the same time.
Ever since the Clash, whenever I see a band live for the first time that feature two guitarists I always look to see who takes lead and how the rhythm guitarist keeps a track together. More Strummers are needed!
I write this today as I just read that George Fullerton who is considered the man behind the Fender Telecaster has just passed away at age 85. When you think of Joe you think of his Telecaster it became symbolic to the point that Fender were wise enough to market this.
As for myself I’m a really bad guitarist, but it’s still fun for me. More of a strummer than a jones, but a nod to George Fullerton is worthy today.
Still love watching Joe bashing away when not on the microphone especially here: